In my Week 1 Rankings, I mentioned how it’s risky to start rookies in their first career game. The ceiling can be high if a rookie DB is underestimated by an opposing QB, but the floor is also low if a first-year LB can’t adjust to the speed of the pro game. That held true for the most part, as several rookies looked very impressive last weekend, while others… well others didn’t even see the field.
So while the IDP studs were predictably solid in Week 1, I’m keeping the focus primarily on the young guns again this week, in the first installment of IDP Adds/Drops/Rising/Falling:
Sheldon Richardson – My favorite DL in the draft this year gets the benefit of lining up opposite Muhammad Wilkerson every week. He made the most of it against Tampa, putting up 3 solos and 4 assists, while getting in on half a sack. Despite their success on Sunday, the Jets will be trailing a lot this year, giving Sheldon plenty of tackle opportunities as other teams try to run out the clock.
Erin Henderson – All preseason we expected that Desmond Bishop would emerge as the LB to own opposite Chad Greenway. Enter Henderson and his 11 total tackles to go with a pick of Matt Stafford. I’d still expect Bishop to find his way into the starting lineup at some point, but Henderson seems like the clear #2 LB in Minnesota.
Duke Ihenacho – The second year safety out of San Jose State brought the extra cheese in Week 1, racking up 11 solo tackles, along with an assist and 3 passes defended. I would be shocked if he was rostered in any league before last week, so he’s worth a pickup if you’re planning on streaming DBs.
Arthur Brown/Matt Elam – The game was a blowout, the starters didn’t look like anything special, and these two rookies still only played a combined 13 snaps. I’m all-in on both in the long term, but if you have a smaller roster, I wouldn’t have a problem letting them loose right now. After all, if they’re not on the field, what can Brown (and Elam) do for you?
Jairus Byrd – I hate wasting roster spots on injured DBs, and Byrd’s situation is even more complicated than that. Whether his plantar fasciitis is as serious as he says or not, it’s clear that he wants out of Buffalo ASAP. And honestly, who can blame him? I spent 4 years in upstate New York and pretty much every NFL city is more desirable than Buffalo. Except Cleveland, obviously. The only upside of the Byrd situation is that Aaron Williams racked up 9 total tackles while filling in for the disgruntled safety. If you’re planning on wasting a bench spot on Byrd for the next month (or two…or three…) then you’d better have an insanely deep roster or a very flexible IR slot.
Nick Fairley – He looked prime for a breakout this season, and Week 1 was not a bad start. Fairley racked up 2 solos and 3 assists along with 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. That’s the kind of stat line Detroit was looking for when they drafted him 13th overall in 2011. Being flanked by a murderer’s row of Ndamukong Suh, Israel Idonije and Ziggy Ansah (aka Spell-Check’s Nightmare) doesn’t hurt, but I expect Fairley to make a statement this year.
Kiko Alonso/Alec Ogletree – These two rookies stood out among all the other rookie LBs, and their owners have to be pleased. Alonso had 9 total tackles along with a forced fumble that he recovered, and was just all over the field against the Pats on Sunday. Ogletree had 7 solos, and with the release of Jo-Lonn Dunbar, he appears to be the guy to own next to Laurinaitis. It was great to see such a great start to these two careers, hopefully they keep it up.
Eric Reid/Tyrann Mathieu – Same story for these two DBs. They were overlooked in most drafts in favor of Cyprien, Vaccaro and Elam, but Reid and Honey Badger put up the most impressive Week 1 numbers. Reid had 7 solos, and picked off Aaron Rodgers, which I’m sure is the first time that’s happened for a rookie making his debut. And as for Honey Badger, well this gif really says it all. Amazing hustle on a TD-saving force fumble, to go along with 7 solos himself. This crop of rookie DBs has the potential to be really special.
Geno Atkins – Zilch. Nada. Bubkes. It’s not like Geno was the only stud DT to get shut out in tackles (I’m looking at you Ndamukong), but he was the only one consistently ranked in the top 10 for DLs. I’ve been low on Atkins since July from an IDP perspective, as he commands and receives a double team on nearly every play. I loved him as a DL2, and I think he puts up stats next week against Pitt sans Pouncey, but if he’s your DL1 I would start looking for reinforcements.
D.J. Williams/Jon Bostic – Brian Urlacher patrolled the middle in Chicago for over a decade, producing solid if not spectacular IDP results when healthy. Logic would dictate that the person takes over for him will reap the same benefits based on the scheme and the surrounding personnel. Unfortunately right now, that person is a people. Until either Williams or Bostic emerges as the three-down option at MLB (and I believe it will be Bostic by the end of the year) it’s difficult to start either of them.
T.J. Ward – Many people loved Ward this year as a possible DB1, while I had him as my 25th DB overall. Sunday’s game against Miami showed why, as he just doesn’t rack up stats on a consistent enough basis for me to comfortably rely on him. Since the start of 2011, he’s had fewer than 5 total tackles in 54% of the games he’s played. With so many other options out there, Ward just isn’t DB1 material to me.
Here are my Week 2 rankings: